THE DEEP - The Deep
"What about the lows with the band?" "The bottom of that drum riser at HOA was pretty low for me."
THE DEEP sind mit ihrem Album "Premonition" im Gepäck fleißig auf Tour. Nach ihrem erfolgreichen Gig auf dem Headbangers Open Air (HOA) hat sich die gesamte Band für ein paar Stormbringer-Fragen Zeit genommen.
First of all thank you very much for your time. Stormbringer.at wants to know a little bit about THE DEEP, the debut album „Premonition“ and about future plans with the band. So let’s start.
THE DEEP brings finest NWOBHM to the listeners. But the band and the ideas of the sound are not a „new invention“. Would you please tell us more about the beginning of THE DEEP and by the way introduce yourselves to the readers?
(Paul) Hi, my name is Paul Smith, I play guitar with THE DEEP. Tony Coldham & myself were in the 1982 line-up of Deep Machine. That band had a great reputation, especially for their live shows, and we did very well in Europe. Sadly, it only lasted for about one year before we disbanded. However, we recorded a demo tape with the songs "Night-stalker" & "Saga" which remains popular to this day. Fast forward 30 years, we all met up & played together again & couldn’t believe how good it sounded, so we decided to reform. But we couldn’t use the name DEEP MACHINE, so we came up with the name THE DEEP instead.
(Tony) I’m Tony Coldham, lead vocalist with THE DEEP. Unfortunately, original members Tony Harris (guitars) and Andy Wrighton (bass) could not continue with the band. So, that left me, Paul and drummer Steve Kingsley from the 1982 line-up, and we had to find new members. We got in touch with an old friend who we hadn’t seen in years, guitarist Mick Feleppa and he came down and played the old material and jammed with us and it was instantly obvious that he was the right guy for the band.
(Mick) I’d been in the band STRUTT with Tony Coldham and Tony Harris around 1985, and Paul had been in an earlier line-up of that band too. I knew the old DEEP MACHINE material as well as the STRUTT songs of course. There was an instant chemistry when I jammed with THE DEEP and I immediately agreed to join.
(Tony) At that time, our buddy, bassist Phil Reeve, was helping us. We would have loved for him to have joined, but he could not commit to the band at that time. We tried lots of different bass guitarists over a long period of time.
(Mick) Yeah, that was a difficult time for us. It was amazingly hard to find a good bass player.
(Tony) For a while we had Kevin Riddles with us and that was great. But Kevin was very busy with many projects including the band TYTAN. Eventually, Don Whiberly joined. He gigged and did the album with us but he later moved on and joined another band.
(Paul) Luckily for us, Phil eventually became available and he joined us.
(Phil) Hi, I’m Phil Reeve. We actually only had four rehearsals and then I did my first gig with the boys, so it was pretty demanding, but great fun.
(Paul) A short while later, our drummer, Steve Kingsley, decided to leave due to work commitments. So we then had to audition drummers. We were lucky enough to find this very talented young guy (19 years old), Fraser Powell.
(Paul) So now THE DEEP’s current line-up is Tony Coldham (vocals), Paul Smith (guitar), Mick Feleppa (guitar), Phil Reeve (bass) & Fraser Powell (drums).
When did the ideas of writing an album come up to you? As far as I´m informed you had to deal with a couple of circumstances until „Premonition“ became reality?
(Paul) We decided to record a demo to try to secure future gigs for the band. We used the recording facilities at the studio complex where we rehearse, Vatican Studios, in East London. We did have a slight problem just before we started recording… we didn’t have a bass player! Luckily a friend of the band had a son who played bass, so Don Whiberley was drafted in. Don stayed with us for six months before moving on.
(Tony) We recorded around eight songs initially with drums and bass and ghost tracks for guitars and vocals. Then we concentrated on completing four or five of those.
(Paul) We all agreed it was the best recording any of us had done, we were blown away! It was at that point we decided to just keep recording & make an album instead of a demo.
(Mick) Yeah, it started as a 4 or 5 track demo… but we hit less bum notes than we thought we would, so we ended up with more studio time. So we used that to finish off the album!!
(Tony) As you’ve probably guessed, Mick is a bit of a joker. Eventually we recorded a total of ten songs that became the album "Premonition". They were mostly songs from 1982 with a couple from around the mid-80s that we played in STRUTT, and a song me and Paul wrote in the 1990’s called "Cold-hearted".
How can we imagine the song writing process? Where do the inspirations come from?
(Paul) Usually a band member will come up with a guitar idea or a riff & it starts from there. Tony often comes up with a vocal idea or a guitar idea that he will sing to us & we then work on it. I think it helps having many years of experience behind us, we know if an idea is going to work or not & also having worked together for many years helps make the process easier.
(Mick) More recently, especially with Fraser joining the band, we’ve been experimenting more and expanded our writing style. His approach is quite different from that of Steve Kingsley and it really helps with the new material we’ve been writing.
(Fraser) I tend to do a lot of double bass-pedal work and syncopated beats which gives the songs a lot more dynamics in my opinion. Hopefully, people will notice an evolution in style between the first album, "Premonition", and the new one. We certainly have songs that have a bit more groove. It would be great to build upon this in future and possibly become a bit more progressive.
(Tony) In terms of lyrics, I tend to write stories. I feel it’s more interesting for the listener. We generally try to avoid boy/girl songs.
(Mick) Yes, no lyrics about having a rendezvous!
Who or what does influence you the most?
(Mick) We all have musical roots dating back to the late 70’s / early 80’s….apart from Fraser, who wasn’t even born until the 1990s!
(Phil) I'm mostly influenced by the great bands of the 70's and 80's like LED ZEPPELINn, THIN LIZZY and RUSH. I'm also influenced by some of the great power trios like CREAM and THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE.
(Fraser) My biggest influences are THE REV, Matt Halpern, Joey Jordison, John Bonham and Mike Portnoy. I’m a huge progressive metal fan, that’s what influences me most musically.
(Tony) I loved bands like UFO and MSG and later on…Malmsteen. More recently I listen to bands like AVENGED SEVENFOLD, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, FATES WARNING and SYMPHONY X. My all-time favourite vocalists are Dio and Russell Allan
(Paul) I just love plugging into a valve amp & cranking it up, there’s nothing like it! Playing in this band, with these guys is fantastic & we love to play live. It’s a real labour of love!
If you had to describe the sound of THE DEEP to anyone who hasn´t heard anything about it, how would you describe it?
(Mick) Loud bass!!
(Fraser) High energy, hard-rocking riffs with powerful melodies and face-melting solos
(Paul) To quote Mick Feleppa; It’s kick arse rock ‘n’ roll! I have heard comments that we can sound like SAXON and Y & T. I would say we are up-tempo & dynamic, but we can also do the slower stuff too.
(Phil) The early stuff is more old school NWOBHM definitely but I think we are moving towards a more modern approach to hard rock but still keeping that appreciation of why we got together in the first place.
(Tony) More recently I’d say it’s a blend of styles. Some aspects of NWOBHM but also with more modern elements. I would say our sound is hard-hitting, yet melodic. A friend recently came to see us perform live for the first time. He’d been listening to the album for around a year, but he said he was surprised just how fierce we sounded live.
(Paul) Yeah and we work our butts off to put on a great show live!
What´s your personal favourite track on the album and why?
(Phil) For me it has to be "You Take My Breath Away". Great balls out sing-a-long rocking number!
(Fraser) My personal favourite is "The Rider", because it’s the first song I learnt and jammed with the band. It has a great opening riff and powerful chorus that never fails to make me bang my head
(Mick) "The Rider" – because it was the first song I played with the boys 32 years ago and also the first one that I jammed with them second time around.
(Paul) That’s a tough question, I love ‘em all! I really like "Cold-hearted" for the non-standard guitar tuning I use, which makes for some really interesting chords behind the chorus & the movement between each section works so well.
(Tony) Yeah, for me it’s "Cold-hearted" as well. I remember when we first wrote it. Paul had a great guitar idea that became the verse. For months I’d had a melody for a chorus but couldn’t think of anything to go with it. We tried them both together and it worked like a dream. A little later we came up with a middle passage too and finished the arrangement. Certainly one of our best songs.
Are there plans or ideas for a new album? Anything you already can tell us?
(Phil) Yes and No (laughs).
(Tony) What Phil means is that we are definitely recording another album, but we’re still developing ideas and working out which songs will go on it. We have a huge back-catalogue of songs that we’ve written over the years as well as new ideas. We’re still working on arrangements and we’re seeing which songs work best together.
(Mick) We will be recording soon. We’ve been playing some of the new stuff live and it has gone down really well.
(Fraser) Yes, we have three songs that will be on the new album that we already perform in our live set
(Paul) We’re very excited with how it’s going. Hopefully, we should start recording in the next few weeks.
You´re playing gigs mainly in the UK but there are shows abroad as well – also in Germany. Can you tell us more about that and your current live activities?
(Tony) Last year in the UK we were the opening band for Garage Dayz revisited, which was great. In Europe we played JH Zenith in Dendermonde, Belgium with SATAN, and also the Very 'Eavy Festival, In Holland, again with SATAN, but also RAVEN and many other bands, including our good friends TOKYO BLADE.
(Paul) This year we played at the Wildfire Festival in Scotland. We had great fun playing at Negasonic in Belgium in May and we have just returned from the Headbangers Open Air festival in Germany. HOA was amazing, we went down really well with the audience.
(Fraser) The crowd was great. We met some amazing fans and had an all-round great experience.
(Phil) It was quite a NWOBHM extravaganza this year, and it was great to see so many of our buddies on the bill, like DESOLATION ANGELS and TYTAN.
(Fraser) We also played Musicon in The Hague the next day. That was also a great show, but very hot! We also have a gig in France in October.
(Paul) Yes, we’re playing at the British Steel Festival at Fisme, France with the guys from GANG and several other great bands including TOKYO BLADE and PRAYING MANTIS.
(Mick) We also have a special charity gig in the UK called Mearfest on the 13th August at The Borderline in London.
(Paul) But we need to make time to record the new album.
What was your highlight during the time with THE DEEP?
(Phil) Every gig is a highlight!
(Fraser) When Mick fell over on stage at HOA and nearly took the whole drum kit with him. I have no idea how I kept playing as I was laughing so much
(Mick) When Don Whiberly left!! Wait… no it was that time when I fell over on stage and cut my hand. I still can’t get the image out of my head of Fraser laughing while keeping time on the drums.
(Paul) I think recording "Premonition" and seeing it progress during the process & then finally hearing the mastered, finished product. That was pretty cool.
(Tony) Yeah, it was cool to finally have an album of the songs we wrote so long ago and to have so many positive comments about it. "Premonition" was very much the album we would have liked to have produced back in 1982. Just imagine what could have happened if we’d been able to make that album back then. I agree with Phil, we love to play live and every gig is great for us. I have to say that HOA was an amazing experience because the audience response was fantastic.
What about lows and hard times?
(Fraser) Haven’t experienced any!
(Phil) Yep, still loving it I'm afraid! (laughs).
(Mick) The bottom of that drum riser at HOA was pretty low for me (laughs).
(Paul) Trying to tie down a long term bass player seemed hard at times, but we never lost faith.
(Tony) Hmmm, probably the biggest hurdle is the fact that people don’t realise who we are because we can’t use the name DEEP MACHING. We’re still trying to get people, especially bookers, organisers and venues, to realise our history and to recognise THE DEEP as a great metal band. I’m hoping that in 2017, with the release of the second album and with the gigs we have planned, we can make people really take notice of us.
What was your best gig so far?
(Paul) It has to be Headbangers Open Air, we definitely raised our game that day. There’s no holding us back now!
(Phil) Has to be Headbangers Open Air. Although I really enjoyed one of our London local gigs where Paul, who’s naturally quite shy, totally went for it … he performed brilliantly!
(Fraser) HOA by far!
(Mick) Yep, Headbangers Open Air in Germany
(Tony) HOA for sure, although Very Eavy was also excellent.
If you could choose any musician or band you want: With whom or which band would you like to share the stage with?
(Paul) IRON MAIDEN because we both started playing the Ruskin Arms in the east end of London. Although they were already famous, we still used to see them there. They also used to come and watch us play back in 1982.
(Phil) Jimmy Page.
(Fraser) PERIPHERY, AVENGED SEVENFOLD and Biffy Clyro.
(Mick) The singer Susan Boyle – with no drum riser and a nice soft landing if I fall…just kidding!
(Tony) Wow, there are so many. I’d love to be on stage with Michael Schenker, maybe sharing some vocals with Graham Bonnet and Doogie White. I have to confess that I also dream of singing on the next Freefall album from Magnus Karlsson. I love his songwriting, lots of melody. He only needs to ask (laughs).
Are there some final words you want to share with our readers?
(Phil) Mine's a pint. (After the gig!)
(Fraser) I can’t wait for everyone to hear the new songs, we’ve got some exciting new stuff coming!
(Mick) Yeah, please buy the "Premonition" CD – we’re using the money to finance the next album!
(Paul) We hope to meet you sometime in the future at a gig near you! Check out our album "Premonition" & if you know of any gigs we could play, get the promoters to contact us. Many thanks & stay metal \m/
(Tony) There are plenty of gigs we’d like to play in Europe. As Paul has just said, if you can help in any way, or you know someone who can, please contact us through Facebook or our website:
or by email:
– keep rocking people!
Thanks again for your time and your answers! All the best for you and the band, a lot of great gigs and experiences.
(Everyone) Thank you!